Fall Home Maintenance -- Avoid Expensive Repairs

John Keats may have thought of fall as a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, but homeowners may regard it somewhat differently. It's the time to prepare for winter, and, depending where you live, that means carrying out a whole host of maintenance tasks.

Do these every year, and you can head off many potentially serious problems before they set in and get expensive.

An Ounce of Prevention

If you can reduce the number of major projects you have to pay for during your time in a home, you'll probably dodge a few repairs. So here's a quick checklist of fall home-maintenance chores. Depending where you live, it might include a real stitch-in-time item.

Preventive maintenance:

  • Seal (or "caulk") cracks, holes and gaps in your exposed foundations and sidings, and around your doors and windows. Don't forget the places where cables and pipes enter the building.
  • Inspect your roof, and replace any missing or damaged shingles. Significant build-ups of moss and/or lichen could signal bigger problems, and you may wish to consult a professional if you have these.
  • Once leaves have finished falling, clear your gutters and flush with water. Check for leaks, loose fittings and broken sections, and repair or replace.
  • Now's a good time to get your HVAC/furnace checked and serviced. If you have hot-water radiators, "bleed" the air from them.
  • Drain or insulate all pipes and hoses that might freeze, including any underground sprinkler systems.

Safety

  • Clean all flues and chimneys, and make sure dampers open and close freely.
  • Check your smoke detectors, and be ready to replace batteries.
  • If you have gas- or wood-fired heaters, similarly check your carbon-monoxide detectors.

Of course, pretty much everything in a home has a limited life expectancy, and ultimately will need to be replaced. But the longer you can extend each major element's effectiveness, the less you're likely to need to spend in the long run -- and, maybe, borrow.

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